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to HR, on news of your death

October 1, 2009

in communication

this post was inspired by the conversations about hr’s imminent demise that were taking place around the blogosphere and twitter a week or so ago.

dear hr,

i’ve been hearing rumors of your death, though they may, of course, be greatly exaggerated. i suppose that could explain why you never call, tweet, poke, or even email.

for so long i’ve wondered, why aren’t we together? i mean, think about it. we have so much in common. a fervent belief that people are our greatest asset. a passion for driving change through the business. an unspoken, secret desire to be recognized as viable, value-added business partners. a zealous need to get a seat at that table! my engagement levels tremble just thinking about our potential partnership. we’d be so powerful!

i’ve toyed with thoughts of stalking you—but i have my pride, y’know. instead i’ve watched in painful silence as you spend countless hours with others, creating your marvelous programs and never bothering to include me. then you push them out into the organization—our organization!—and are shocked when they don’t take root, sputter, and die.

well, now that you’re waking up to the idea that it’s all about marketing, it may not be me doing the stalking. i can’t help you with all your challenges, but i can help with that little PR problem you’re having. after all, i do know a thing or two about employees as an audience and marketing programs internally. i can take your carefully designed programs and love them—nurture them—giving them all they need to thrive:

make your idea market-ready by asking:

  • what you’re trying to achieve
  • who you’re trying to reach
  • what beliefs and behaviors you’re trying to change
  • what obstacles are in your way
  • where this program doesn’t jive with your employer brand—and vice versa
  • how your program design benefits (or changes) from knowing this information

counsel on:

  • how to package your ideas and arguments for the powers-that-be
  • how to craft a message so it’s felt and use design to quickly convey meaning
  • where employees can turn for information
  • what support they’ll need and the best way to give it
  • where you can scale back budget-wise without harming your effectiveness

active participation
do the heavy lifting to:

  • develop buzzword-free content that gets read
  • skip the cutesy program title acronym to avoid disdain
  • advise on graphic design that’s crisp and sharp, not stock
  • build channels for participatory dialogue
  • provide a means to develop skills in others

buttress your rise from the dead with:

  • research to guide decision making
  • insight into derailers
  • data that affirms achieved business results

hr, i can make you a rock star—the above merely skims the surface. and while we both might still be behind the scenes and not getting the adulation we crave and deserve, we could bask in the afterglow of our achievement.

so, you’ll be calling me, wontcha?!

employee communications professionals everywhere

p.s. turns out that news of your death is false—it’s just that you’re fatally flawed. hmmm, guess it’s not about us, after all.

Leave a Comment

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Michael VanDervort October 2, 2009 at 7:10 am

Great post. Great point. This ties back into a follow post I did called This is your brain on HR.


In it, I pointed out the need to build alliances within the HR function!

It is up to us to change it. How do we go about doing that?

1. Get clear on the mission
2. Build alliance within the function, not a silo
3. Stay informed on what is going on in the business, internal and external
4. Put people first
5. Find solutions
6. Find resources or creative ways to deliver programs to clients
7. Find ways to WOW them…chalenge your brain and innovate.
8. practice #GreatHR


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